Negotiation is messy


When the brief asked us to create a musical machine, our team came up with the idea of creating a conversation, composed by two individual speakers that have a dialog with each other. Initially we imagined them listening to each other and responding, but instead we ended up deciding to have them negotiate and fight for power.

Course: Intro to Programming

Team: Me, Charlie Gedeon, Mette Mørch

Idea ge

Negotiation is messy. We talk over each other at times, we shout, we wait in silence to come up with a counter offer and we try to get the most out of our opponent.

   Isayas, the owner of the Ethiopian restaurant Ma'ed, with his daughter.

The loop

Using Processing and a musical networking library provided by the instructors, their interactions were defined by these three phases:

1. Negotiation
Each speaker randomly goes through notes on an array. They talk at the same time, each of them using it’s own voice (different synthesizer settings).

2. Agreement
When both speakers hit the same note they agree, and one of them is selected randomly to proceed with the conversation.

3. Conversation
The selected speaker plays a randomly selected sequence from an array while the other waits in silence.

Once the solo is finished, they go back to the negotiation phase and proceed with the conversation. The produced conversation is different every time you start it, with one of the speakers sometimes almost overpowering the other.


It was extremely interesting to observe how us, humans, immediately started reading into this conversational machine, and attributing human characteristics and emotions to the two intervenients and sometimes even meaning to their conversation.


The messiness of the whole affair was accentuated by adding sprinkles on each of the speakers that bounced with the vibration, showing what speaker is leading the conversation at the moment.


After a while, the sprinkles were completely gone, leaving the speakers in silence and
nothing left to be said